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About Marian Martin
Featuring: Alice Martin
By: Gregorio Velez
Garifuna people are known for their resilience and ability to thrive wherever they happen to be. Like in Central America’s coastal regions, here in the United States they can be found in that upward mobility. An example of such Garifuna is Alice Martin a.k.a Marian Martin, who is making strides in the music industry. Ms. Martin’s music interest grew from watching her grandfather, Mr. Victor Bernardez, make and fine tune Garifuna drums (garawoun) in their mother land Dangriga, Belize.
At the tender age of 9, she formed a 24 member musical band, improvising their instruments with plastic butter containers and tin cans (tucumparan), yet capable of creating danceable and harmonious renditions. During that time, they were summoned by Prime Minister George Price, to play in the inauguration ceremonies of the House of Representatives, the same House that appears on their currency’s one dollar bills.
When she was 11 years old, she migrated to the United States and attended school where she learned to read and write musical notes, as well as play the piano and base guitar. Jazz, soul, and R & B (Rhythm and Blues) were other music forms she immersed herself in. On weekends she took private lessons in order to enhance her musical talents, yet never forgot about her humble beginnings as a Garifuna drum player, a feat she so masterfully does up to this day. It’s no surprise then that nowadays, you’ll find her writings and arranging her own music. Ms. Martin is an accomplished musician with much recognition earned in the African American community.
In the August 12, 1995 edition of the Amsterdam News, the following was said about her: “Ms. Martin is a multitalented musician who also plays Garifuna drums”. She’s also been mentioned on the popular radio stations: WBLS and WLIB; represented in Black Culture, located on 135th street and Malcolm X Boulevard in the heart of Harlem. In addition, she appeared on channel 7’s (WABC) evening news as part of the Mind- Builders Creative Arts Co. Inc. Living Museum Expo, held every summer in the month of August on Olinville Avenue, between Gun Hill Road and Magenta Street in the Bronx, New York. Ms. Martin has also been the recipient of many awards/certificates for her contributions to P.S 41 and Mind_ Builders Inc. On October 29, 1995 she performed at the University of California, Los Angeles receiving rave reviews.
Ms. Martin has been in the music business for over 18 years, yet the Garifuna community knows little about her. Back in the days, as a struggling musician, she experienced dissatisfaction and down right alienation from some members of the Garifuna bands she tried to work with, reason why she channeled her efforts to other forms of music like Jazz and R & B but never forgot her Garifuna roots.